Plato's Sophist [162-163]

This αἴσθησις at which the deliberation comes to a standstill is a pre-eminent one. It must be distinguished from the αἴσθησις in mathematics. ἀλλ' αὕτη μᾶλλον αἴσθησις ἢ φρόνησις, ἐκείνης δ' ἄλλο εἶδος (Nic. Eth. VI, 9, 1142a29f.). The geometrical αἴσθησις, in which I see the ultimate figural element, the triangle, is μᾶλλον αἴσθησις, more of pure perception, more of pure grasping than the αἴσθησις of φρόνησις. In geometry it is a sheer matter of pure onlooking and constatating. The αἴσθησις of φρόνησις has a different character. For φρόνησις is, in its very sense, still πρακτική, even in αἴσθησις. The αἴσθησις of φρόνησις is hence, as φρόνησις, related to the πρακτά. It is, specifically, an ultimate inspection of the states of affairs, but this inspection is in φρόνησις not a mere inspection but a circumspection. In other words, it is guided by the ὀρθότης, and hence is directed to the τέλος, the εὐπραξία, so that the objects grasped in it have the character of the συμφέρον.

c) Φρόνησις and σοφία as opposite highest modes of
ἀληθεύειν (= νοῦς). Ἀεί and the moment. Prospect: νοῦς and
διαλέγεσθαι. Aristotle and Plato.

Φρόνησις has become visible in this fundamental structural moment, namely that in it there is accomplished something like a pure perceiving, one that no longer falls within the domain of λόγος. Insofar as this pure perceiving concerns the ἔσχατον, it is αἴσθησις. Insofar as this αἴσθησις, however, is not dedicated to the ἴδια but is nevertheless a simple perceiving, it is νοῦς. Therefore Aristotle can say: ἀντίκειται μὲν δὴ τῷ νῷ (1142a25); φρόνησις obviously resides opposite to νοῦς, provided νοῦς is understood as the νοῦς in σοφία, the one that aims at the ἀρχαί. Φρόνησις is, structurally, identical with σοφία; it is an ἀληθεύειν ἄνευ λόγου. That is what φρόνησις and σοφία have in common. But the pure grasping in the case of φρόνησις lies on the opposite side. We have here two possibilities of νοῦς: νοῦς in the most extreme concretion and νοῦς in the most extreme καθόλου, in the most general universality. The νοῦς of φρόνησις aims at the most extreme in the sense of the ἔσχατον pure and simple. Φρόνησις is the inspection of the this here now, the inspection of the concrete momentariness of the transient situation. As αἴσθησις, it is a look of an eye in the blink of an eye, a momentary look at what is momentarily concrete, which as such can always be otherwise.